Q: My girlfriend of almost a year recently moved in with me. I'm 42; she's 29. The week after she moved in, her friends made fun of our age difference and my supposedly looking too old for her. She's undecided about much in her life, and this increased her confusion. She'd never voiced problems with the age spread before, but after the flak from her friends, she started pulling away from me in public and acting like we're not connected. In general, she seems very dissatisfied. When I pressed her, she said she wished she were more physically attracted to me, and said she's never felt overly anything for anyone (religion and sex issues, abuse at home, etc.). She feels guilty that her feelings haven't deepened over time like mine. I told her the initial love drug never lasts; you have to work on a relationship. My investment so far seems worth working for. I guess I just need her to share with me more, keep me in the loop. —Somewhat Older Man
A: If you want a fair shake from a jury, rob a liquor store. You'll have your day in court instead of your day in the food court — being judged by your girlfriend's clique of seventhgrader girlfriends from their jury box at Cinnabon.
Hope you don't think it impolite of me to ask, but what's your head doing all the way up there? Here you are, telling yourself you just have to get your girlfriend to "share" with you more. Um, perhaps you failed to notice, but the last time she shared, it didn't turn out so well: "You're old and embarrassing, and I can't bear to be seen with you in public." (But, hey, what's not to love?) You also trot out the old saw about how you have to "work on a relationship," apparently confusing your girlfriend with stained grout.
Sorry, but there's no amount of elbow grease you can put into this that will make everything come out okay. It would be different if there were a few issues mucking up a good thing.
That's when you talk it out, rent space on a therapist's couch, and otherwise invest in the Self-Help Industrial Complex.
But, here's a girl whose favorite thing to do in the bedroom is probably hiding under the bed so you won't pester her for sex. Almost a year in, she finally admits she isn't attracted to you. Not only that, she seems incapable of being attracted or bonded to anyone due to a wad of serious issues she never saw fit to resolve. In case that didn't dissuade you, she doesn't seem to have opinions, just friends with opinions, and if she feels anything for you, it's a mild sense of apathy. Yet, you see all this as your cue to have the elder statesman chat with her about the staying power of the "initial love drug" — which it seems she held in her cheek and spit out when the love orderlies had their backs turned.
The one person you really need to "share" more with is you. In the face of unpleasant truths, humans have a propensity to deny reality. This doesn't change reality; it just gives your misery tenure. Admit the truth, and you can get out of your "investment" instead of waiting for life to push your nose into the swampland so hard that you have to call it swampland — or, rather, you have to concede there's little chance your girlfriend will ever come to the conclusion that home is where the old fart is.
Need To No
Q: What's the best excuse for postponing a first date you want to go on, but around noon the day of, discover you really aren't up for?
A: If you tell the truth -- you don't feel up for the date -- the person's likely to suspect you got a better offer or that the real truth is something along of the lines of "Oh, I'll just be home cutting myself. How 'bout tomorrow?" If you're a poor liar, suck it up and go. Otherwise, say you're sick, and ask to reschedule for a specific date. Simplicity is key. It's in trying to embellish your way to believability that you get caught. A professional diplomat agreed with me, but reviewed my solution as a missed opportunity (and seemed to find it unnecessarily dull). Balazs Bokor, the Hungarian ambassador to the West Coast, suggested you use your situation to make yourself seem mysterious and exciting, telling your date that "something happened that was very important -- very, very suddenly, and without any previous agreement. Somebody came, and we have to sit down concerning my future." He further explained that "people who are living their normal life like to hear something that is not, 'Look, I have a flat tire, I cannot go.'"
' 2009 Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.
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